The violent and hate-filled rhetoric that has become no much a part of our life did not pull the trigger that killed six people — including a federal judge and a nine-year-old girl — and left an Arizona Congresswoman fighting for her life Saturday.

These senseless acts came from a deranged man who equated violence with political action.  It came from someone who saw violence as the most-efficient way to resolve differences.

While the hate-filled rhetoric did not actually commit the act, it did provide the fuel that has turned an Arizona Safeway into a bloodbath.  It fueled the hate that defines political differences. It showcased a condition that has turned this nation into an intolerant environment where differences of opinion are settled not with words but with fists, hate, threats and — in some cases — death.

Whether it is a doctor blown to bits because he provides abortion procedures legal under the law or a coward who terrorizes those with differing political opinions, the very existence of hate has no place in a democracy.  It has no place in a nation founded on the principles of politiical and religious freedoms.  It has no place in a place that calls itself the “land of the free.”

Yet it happens — far mods often than it should. I sent a man to the hospital with a broken jaw last years simply because he took a swing at me over something I had written about Sarah Palin. He missed. I didn’t. His goal was not debate but payback.

Political candidates issue posters with their opponents in rifle-scope crosshairs.  We kill in the name of “freedom” and leave bodies on the ground and call it “God‘s will.”  In war, success is measured through body count.

Don’t misunderstand. I own — and use — guns.  I grew up in a family of hunters. Americans like me take lives because a U.S.government employee with a higher pay grade orders it done and because someone, somewhere, declared it necessary, legal and the right thing to do.

But who made the decision to end the life of a nine-year-old girl or that of a federal judge? Who decided that a member of Congress needed a bullet through her brain?  Who determined that death from a 147-grain bullet was a righteous shoot?

The correct answer, of course, is no one. The deaths in Arizona were not legal or sanctioned. But that technicality does not bring a single one of those six people back to life.

Even so, death — even when sanctioned, legalized or blessed at the hand of God — is still death and a society where death becomes an acceptable solution to a problem is a society that — itself — died long ago.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  ,,

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